Wiktionary:Votes/2016-12/"References" and "External sources"

"References" and "External sources"Edit

Voting on: Implementing this project concerning a number of entry sections, as described below, in its entirety.

Full list of steps:

  1. Renaming the "External links" section to "External sources" in all entries.
    • Rationale: The word "links" may not always be applicable. Some external sources may point to offline/paper works, such as "Foclóir Gaeḋilge agus Béarla, Irish Texts Society, 1927, by Patrick S. Dinneen" (see {{R:ga:Dinneen}}).
  2. Explicitly defining what is the purpose of the "External sources" section, and what is the purpose of the "References" section. (details in subsequent items below)
    • Rationale: Currently, these two sections are used in entries in a way that is interchangeable to some extent. If we define their purpose explicitly, the entries are going to be more consistent, and we will be able to know exactly what to expect when clicking on a link in any of these two sections.
  3. Allowing the use of the "References" section only for the purpose of referencing specific statements in the entry. (examples: we might have references for usage notes, etymologies, etc. but this does NOT replace the need to attest definitions through citations)
    • Rationale: This is to avoid the use of the "References" section to list links to other dictionaries and encyclopedias that are mere suggestions of places to look and may not add any new information that can't be found on the Wiktionary entry itself.
  4. For "References" section, always requiring the use of tags <ref></ref> and <references/>. The footnotes are presented as a numbered list.
    • Rationale: This is in line with the notion that references must serve as proof to statements in the entry; the footnotes mark the affected statements. A number of entries currently have references either as bulleted lists or as numbered lists, which is inconsistent; this proposal limits them to numbered lists only, which is the format used by reference tags anyway.
  5. Allowing the usage of "External sources" only in cases where other dictionaries and encyclopedias (including Wikipedia) are listed as suggestions of places to look, without serving as proof for specific statements in the entry.
    • Rationale: Either a link serves as proof for statements in the entry or it doesn't. If the "References" section covers the first possibility as defined above, then the "External sources" covers the second possibility.
  6. Editing WT:EL#List of headings: the section "External links" appears three times. They should be replaced by "External sources".
  7. Updating WT:EL#References and WT:EL#External links (which must be renamed to WT:EL#External sources), and adding a new section in the policy: WT:EL#See also.
    • Rationale: In WT:EL the aforementioned sections must be edited to reflect the new rules if this vote passes. The new policy section "WT:EL#See also" is to explain that the "See also" section in entries is for Wiktionary pages only; otherwise, people might use "See also" to link to pages outside Wiktionary.

Below are the specific policy edits as mentioned in the item #7 above.

Remove this from WT:EL:

External links

Any line of text whose only purpose is linking to an external website (for example, a link to an encyclopedia, such as Wikipedia, or 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica), should be placed within an "External links" section, and never within a "See also" section.

Main article: Wiktionary:References

The References section contains external sources where the information available on our entries can be verified. This improves the reliability and usefulness of Wiktionary. References are especially encouraged for unusual or disputable claims in etymologies — such as the etymology of windhover — or usage notes.

References are listed using bullet points (the character *). References may be given in a normal bibliographic format showing author, title, place of publication, publisher and year of publication. Reference templates (beginning with “R:”) are used for some of the most common sources. See the example below for two references used in the entry water:


* {{R:Century 1911}}
* {{R:Webster 1913}}


Add this to WT:EL, which includes replacing what has been removed:

See also

The See also section is used to link to entries and/or other pages on Wiktionary, including appendices and categories. Don't use this section to link to external sites such as Wikipedia or other encyclopedias and dictionaries.

External sources

The External sources are simple recommendations of further places to look.

  • This section may be used to link to external dictionaries and encyclopedias, (for example, Wikipedia, or 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica) which may be available online or in print.
  • This section is not meant to prove the validity of what is being stated on the Wiktionary entries. (the References section serves that purpose)


Main article: Wiktionary:References

The References section contains reference works where users can verify the information available on our entries. This improves the reliability and usefulness of Wiktionary. References are especially encouraged for unusual or disputable claims in etymologies — such as the etymology of windhover — or usage notes.

  • This section requires using footnotes marking the specific statements in the text that is proved by the listed references. use <ref></ref> and <references/>. (see mw:Help:Cite for help) This generates a numbered list.
  • References may be given in a normal bibliographic format showing author, title, place of publication, publisher and year of publication.
  • Reference templates are used for some of the most common sources.


  • If this vote passes, many templates such as {{R:Century 1911}} and {{R:Webster 1913}} (which begin with "R:" for "References") may start being used only in the "External sources" section, or simultaneously in both the the "External sources" and the "References" sections. This vote does not necessarily require changing the name of all the templates. The idea of renaming templates may be discussed eventually and implemented if people want.


  • Vote starts: 00:00, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Vote ends: 23:59, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Vote created: --Daniel Carrero (talk) 19:08, 31 December 2016 (UTC)



  1.   SupportSMUconlaw (talk) 18:20, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
  2.   Support --Daniel Carrero (talk) 00:18, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
  3. Weak   Support. I don't like using "External sources" because (a) it implies that it is just another list of sources for information found in the entry (all of which should really be under "References"), and (b) it seems obvious that our sources would be external. A better name might be "Further reading" or "Further information." Andrew Sheedy (talk) 02:09, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    I like "Further information", too. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 09:58, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    No objection to that either. — SMUconlaw (talk) 10:14, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    If this vote passes (or even if it fails), it might be nice to have a separate discussion/vote to check if there's consensus for "Further information" instead of "External sources". --Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:48, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
  4.   Support — I think "See Also" is not a good name for the section (not self-describing, hence the confusion), but maybe this could be addressed in different vote. Jberkel (talk) 10:52, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
  5.   Support with the exception of point 4 and the first bullet point in the proposed "References" section, per Tropylium. I prefer a simple bulleted list of references to the use of ref tags. This, that and the other (talk) 03:02, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
    Maybe are you saying that ref tag should be removed from all entries? I'd oppose that notion, ref tags are important in my opinion: they point specifically to what the references are referencing. On that note, I added the point 4 because in the november discussion in the BP some people wanted to standardize the References sections with numbers only, which I think is a good idea too. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 12:02, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
    I believe the ref tag should only be used in long entries with many (say, more than four) senses/subsenses. For shorter entries it is pointless. This, that and the other (talk) 05:34, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
  6.   Support -Xbony2 (talk) 02:41, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
  7.   SupportSaltmarsh. 08:11, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
  8.   Support John Cross (talk) 05:40, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
  9.   SupportCodeCat 19:37, 27 February 2017 (UTC)


  1.   Oppose point four. I have no issue with the "External sources" renaming operation (count this as an abstain for that if you wish), but, as I have pointed out on the talk page, enforcing only in-line references is excessive in the case of e.g. reconstructed entries, all content of which is in fact sourced from somewhere. (It seems unnecessary to me to bundle these issues into a single vote, but as you will.) --Tropylium (talk) 14:04, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    (For that matter, I even agree with the intent of the point — for us to stop mixing bulleted and footnote references — but I don't think this means that bulleted references should be banned entirely. --Tropylium (talk) 14:12, 3 February 2017 (UTC))
    @Tropylium: Are you opposing only the point four while abstaining the other points, or are you opposing the whole vote on the basis of point four? I believe your answer should affect the vote count.
    Still, it seems to be the case that references for the whole page (or the whole language section) are the exception rather than the rule... Should we have a separate section like "General references" without specific footnotes? Personally, I guess I prefer just using "References" and adding multiple footnotes in Reconstruction:Proto-Uralic/kala, because some references may not cover all the displayed information, and someone might add new stuff that is not covered by any of the references listed, but I'm okay with discussing whether that's really the best idea. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 14:29, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    The former. This is not a "voting on the following X points" vote though, so it seems I'm forced to vote just in bulk.
    …Perhaps limiting this vote to mainspace entries would be the easiest workaround. Referencing reconstructions seems like a completely different topic from referencing entries, really. EL does not even explicitly cover non-mainspace entries after all, and the issue is more that WT:PROTO doesn't have a whole lot of conventions hashed out & instead defers to EL for formatting on issues like this. Perhaps I should start a discussion on improvements to that, instead. --Tropylium (talk) 14:54, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    @Tropylium: Based on your last message, would you like to change your vote to "Support for main namespace only, oppose for reconstruction pages"?
    If you don't want to do that, it's OK too. But please note that some votes in the past have had their outcomes affected by positions like "support everything except X". (and I support allowing that, by the way) So, based on this conversation, I'm going to count your vote as "opposing only the point four while abstaining the other points" unless you don't feel comfortable with that position and want to change it in any way before the vote ends.
    At some point in the future, I'd like to propose writing on WT:EL: "These rules apply to reconstructed pages, unless WT:PROTO says otherwise." I believe this is the same logic as "These rules apply to all languages, unless language consideration pages like WT:AJA say otherwise." But, today, I believe there's no rule (or unwritten consensus) actually stating or denying that reconstruction pages must follow WT:EL. Therefore even if this vote passes in its entirety, I believe it's probably OK to keep using "References" on reconstruction pages with bullet points like nothing happened, until further discussion. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 15:37, 3 February 2017 (UTC)
    It's possible that I could switch to support for mainspace, or a general abstain, but really I'd be interested in seeing what other users working with etymologies have to say about this. --Tropylium (talk) 16:03, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
  2.   Oppose The "See also" note is a good one, but my feeling is that both "External links" and "External sources" headings should be scrapped, and all references placed under "References". This would be much simpler. DonnanZ (talk) 10:51, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
    I disagree with you. For example, sometimes we put links to Wikipedia, encyclopedias and dictionaries in the "External links" section (which will become "External sources" if this vote passes). These are not references, at least not in the sense that they prove what is being said in the entry. Months ago, I created Goldbach's conjecture with a "References" section serving as proof for a statement said in the entry. In my opinion, it's important to have a section for actual references and another section for simple suggestions to look for further information. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:59, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
  3.   Oppose This is a good initiative. However, I do not find "External sources" in any reference works online: any examples? By contrast, the current "External links" is used by Wikipedia and also Britannica online (e.g. here[1]), and fits the bill for most purposes; the case where we need to refer the reader to offline work in a "further reading" manner does not seem all that common, from what I have seen, and does not make all that much sense for an online reader. I like the current use of "External links" in German and Czech pages, where it is used to link to Duden and Czech dictionaries online, respectively. An alternative could be to use headings "References" and "Inline references", and interpret "References" as "we refer you to X" rather than "some location of the page references X". A further alternative would be to only use the heading References, and introduce the inline references with "Inline references:" just above the references tag. --Dan Polansky (talk) 10:14, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
  4.   Oppose — Generally speaking, I find that the supposedly clear distinction between a source that backs up a specific statement and one that doesn't rarely applies. For Ancient Greek and Latin entries (which are the ones I'm thinking of), links in References sections usually support the whole entry, by which I mean that they support numerous specific statements in those entries. Of course, those "external sources" could all be changed into references, but doing so would pepper etymologies, virtually every sense and subsense, quite a few inflection tables, and some synonyms and antonyms with long chains of blue, bracketted, superscript numerals: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. Doing so would clarify which sources support which statements, but that fairly minor improvement comes at the cost of making our entries pretty damn ugly. I do see there being a worthwhile distinction between References and External links (or Further information or what-have-you); for example, I always put {{pedia}} in the External links section and never the References section, because a Wikipedia article itself should never be used to support any statement, even though it is very likely to feature relevant further information. However, the distinction enforced by these proposed regulations is not the one that would be useful to make; quite conversely, they further obscure that useful distinction which I have indicated. — I.S.M.E.T.A. 11:13, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
    I believe the point 4 failed (see result below) and therefore we won't be required to add footnotes in entries as was proposed above. However, if a dictionary or a book mentions a sense of a word, or informs that two words are synonyms, I believe this is merely incidental to the fact that (ideally) we should get some quotations to prove these facts in the first place. Therefore, I don't think we will ever need references to prove our senses, synonyms and antonyms. Feel free to prove me wrong if this does not apply to all languages. This may not apply to reconstructed languages, anyway. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:13, 2 March 2017 (UTC)



Correct me if I'm wrong. I believe the vote result is: Passed, except for the point 4.

Simple vote count:

  • 9-4-0 (69.23%-30.77%) -- This is the simple number of votes, disregarding all the texts. I'll comment about the texts below. I believe the voters' opinions and rationales matter even if the final result gets a bit complex.

Vote count concerning the point 4 (requiring the use of tags <ref></ref> and <references/>):

  • 8-5-0 (61.54%-38.46%)
  • @Tropylium agreed to the idea of "opposing only the point four while abstaining the other points", but also said "it seems I'm forced to vote just in bulk". Either way, it's a clear "oppose" for point 4.
  • @This, that and the other supported the vote with the exception of point 4. I wonder if this should count as "oppose" or "abstain" the point 4, but in doubt I'm considering full oppose. If it's abstain, the point 4 could actually pass, with a final result of 8-4-1 (66.66%-33.33%).

Comments about the name "External sources":

  • The name "External sources" passed. But some people seemed open to the idea of using "Further information", for example, and @Dan Polansky mentioned that External links "fits the bill for most purposes". I'm going to create a follow-up vote for the exact name of that section, as I suggested above. That said, "External sources" was voted and approved and therefore I believe it's going to be implemented if no other option wins in the follow-up vote.
  • While we wait for the follow-up vote to end, maybe we don't need to implement "External sources" in all entries right now.

--Daniel Carrero (talk) 10:05, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

I edited WT:EL to conform with the results of this vote. Again, I implemented everything except the point 4... The history of WT:EL should make that pretty clear, I did multiple edits. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 11:02, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
Also I created Wiktionary:Votes/2017-03/"External sources", "External links", "Further information" or "Further reading" as a follow-up to this vote to double-check if we want to use "External sources" as the section name. As I said, if the follow-up vote fails, I believe "External sources" wins by default, because it already won in this vote. --Daniel Carrero (talk) 11:05, 2 March 2017 (UTC)